ACROSS the ocean, top-tier basketball returns tonight with the beginning of a new season in the NBA.
The Golden State Warriors, led again by the wristy Steph Curry, are 6/1 joint favourites to defend the title they beat the Boston Celtics (also 6/1) to capture last year.
Something that always fascinates is just how many games are played on the courts over there. There are 82 regular season games and if you reach the play-offs you could be playing more than a hundred.
And the 41 guaranteed games on the road really mean in the air as vast distances are travelled for away games.
Don’t feel too sorry for the tall guys as NBA players are the world’s best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.
Last year Curry took the all-time three-point record and finals MVP honours. It is really worth watching a few Youtube videos of Curry practising long-distance shots.
The Milwaukee Bucks present one of the biggest challengers to last year’s finalists.
Favourites to defend their title last year, to take the title, Khris Middleton picking up an injury during the post-season games against the Celtics put the kibosh on it.
Their roster has Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, and the team from Wisconsin have the necessary star power and the motivation to get into the play-offs again and if they can survive a loaded Eastern Conference, and stay healthy, then they are in with a great shout of recapturing their crown.
LAST week we mentioned that prior to the Wigan v Cardiff Championship game someone noticed that one of the goalposts was slightly higher than it should be.
Two inches taller, which was a good spot by whoever was eagle-eyed enough to notice (not their goalkeeper oddly enough).
The incident prompted checks across the weekend by the EFL (a sort of pre-match post-game analysis) and when the match officials conducted their inspections prior to Hull City hosting Birmingham they found the nets were hoisted two inches too high on one side of the pitch there too.
On being told that re-sinking the posts would delay their tie by two hours, Wigan and Cardiff agreed to plough ahead despite the goal-frame discrepancy.
The officials in Hull proved to be a bit more upright when it game to the rules of the association and insisted they be fixed.
So the call came in to find someone who was handy at metalwork (not woodwork, as the posts are now made of aluminium) and they came, they sawed and recalibrated to ensure the goal-line technology would work correctly. The game was delayed by just 20 minutes. Birmingham won 2-0.
OK, not the most amazing story, but I’m pretty happy with the above headline. In fact, I’d say the bar had been set too high with it.
THE Premier League didn’t avoid match delays either with Arsenal’s visit to Elland Road delayed by 40 minutes after the power went out like Patrick Street on a Friday night.
But it couldn’t stop the Gunners stretching clear at the top thanks especially to a late VAR intervention. They are in to 6/1 to lift their first top-flight crown since 2004.
Rivals Spurs have had their best start (10 games) to a Premier League campaign but remain 28/1 shots.
And yes, it was here you read about Man City’s poor record at Anfield and how 3/1 on a home win or draw was worth a thought.
THE fallout from contentious chanting has continued into a second week and catapulted the Wolfe Tones into the top 10s of the music charts here and in the UK.
What about some less contentious ballads that might work for other sports:
1. Bowled Robert Emmett (cricket).
2. Fore, Green Fields (golf).
3. Whiskey In a Jar (swimming).
4. The Trialled Rover (greyhound racing).
5. The Velvety Backhand (tennis).
6. The Dressing Gown I Loved So Well (boxing).
7. I Am All Alone (marathon running).
8. The Fouled Triangle (snooker).
9. Animation Once Again (dressage).
10. On The One Road (bobsleigh).
THINGS have not exactly gone as planned since I returned and some of the criticism has been warranted (“Tipster! More like tipsy” as one reader put it to us).
The longshots simply weren’t clicking so a short odds recommendation was offered to shore up any remaining goodwill out there.
Claressa Shields was an 11/10 winner when going the distance and taking a unanimous decision over Savannah Marshall on Saturday night. Some dodgy judging in the preceding fight on the night had us slightly worried about a hometown decision but the American’s class was well-represented on all three scorecards.
It’s not going to pay off for a while but take the Bucks to lift the NBA Championship at 7/1.